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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Flooding hit the city of Tacloban, Leyte as the world’s strongest typhoon surged through the city, damaging property and inundating homes with water.
Low-lying areas, including Tacloban, were hit especially hard, with the flooding breaching the first floor of some establishments.
Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said he expects devastation to be severe.
“It’s very very high. Flooding is chest deep. It’s definitely the worst. Devastation will be severe,” he added.
Communication lines were down, making the situation worse. Rep Romualdez, who is in Manila, said he was in touch with local officials until 7:30 am when the lines were cut off.
“The last time I spoke to Mayor Alfred Romualdez was around 7:30. It was low tide then, a prelude to the storm surge. We now see that Downtown Tacloban is flooded,” Rep Romualdez said.
“Communication lines are critical. All cell sites are down. You can communicate through a satellite phone but not everyone has access to a satellite phone,” he added.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Mar Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin both arrived in Tacloban City Thursday to supervise government response there.
“It’s as good as it can get. You have some sort of Malacañang there,” he said.
Thousands were evacuated, said Romualdez. “We just continue to pray that loss of lives and damage to properties will be at the minimum,” he said.
A DZIQ Radyo Inquirer interview with Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez prior to the typhoon hitting the area has him admitting concern over the storm, calling it “definitely the strongest typhoon ever” with people “quite terrified” at its coming.
Romualdez explained before the brunt of the typhoon hit that people could only see as far as 30 to 40 feet in front of them, with visibility reduced to almost zero due to the strength of the wind.
Romuladez: we can only see as far as 30 to 40 feet. Visibility is almost zero dahil sa lakas ng hagupit ng hangin— RadyoInquirer990AM (@dzIQ990) November 7, 2013
He asked those who were listening, especially in the areas that would be affected by the storm, not to underestimate Typhoon Yolanda.
Watch a video of Typhoon Yolanda as it hit Tacloban, Leyte:
Communications in Eastern Samar were also affected as a result of Typhoon Yolanda hitting the area.
The Philippine News Agency (PNA) posted a report, saying that the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Region 8 was “having difficulty communicating with Guiuan town, Eastern Samar.”
The PNA cited a radio interview with OCD Region officer-in-charge Rey Gozon, who said that as of 5 am, “We cannot contact Guiuan.” – Rappler.com